Poroshenko zucks VKontakte
Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko has just signed a decree extending Kiev's Russia sanctions for another year and introducing additional sanctions against Russian IT companies for a period of three years.
The order requires internet providers in Ukraine to block their customers from accessing sites Yandex, Mail.ru and Vkontakte.
Yandex is a top search engine in Ukraine, Mail.ru a top email provider, and VKontakte the biggest social networking service in Ukraine by far.
Virtually every Ukrainian under 40-50 years of age has a VKontakte ("in contact") account. If internet providers comply with the order virtually entire country will be blocked from their social media fix.
It is difficult to explain just how big, and just how authoritarian, this move is.
The equivalent would be if Turkey's Erdogan or Syria's Assad banned Facebook in order to 'get back' at the United States.
Truth is this will hurt Ukrainians far more than it will hurt Russia.
To make things all the more bizarre the President of Ukraine maintains a regularly updated VKontakte page himself. Poroshenko's VK page was updated just three days ago.
On the other hand, if Kiev can get Ukrainians to switch to Facebook that would be a big coup for him and the EuroMaidanites. Ukrainians segragated from Russians and Russian news sources, and instead socially networking under the watchful eye of supposed fake-news-fighting emperor Zuck? What's not to like.
Our prediction: if the order is actually implemented Ukrainians will become expert at using proxies and other tricks to get around the Poroshenko firewall.